Football University is proud to announce the final rounds of its sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade national youth football tournament is returning to Naples, Florida for two more years.
This time, we’re bringing twice as many teams to Championship Weekend.
Announced at a press conference on Monday, the final eight teams in each bracket at each grade level – 24 teams total – will play Dec. 17-20 this year at Naples High School and Barron Collier High School. The FBU National Championship will host an extra round in Naples, expanding Championship Weekend from three days to four.
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau expects the national football tournament to bring in $3 million in direct spending and an economic impact of $4.5 million – twice as much as last year.
“We’re going to see the impact of hosting such a terrific event,” said Michael Obyc, senior sports marketing manager for the convention and visitors bureau (CVB). “A championship like this is exactly what every CVB in the country is trying to get on a daily basis. It’s a crown jewel to host it in our backyard.”
Bringing the final rounds of the national tournament to Naples has made the area more synonymous with youth football and championships with each passing year.
“I’ve been a Naples resident for 20 years,” FBU VP Steve Quinn said during the press conference at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. “To see this come full circle, to be up here talking about the biggest event in youth football is really exciting.”
Jack Wert, executive director of Naples’ CVB, said the FBU National Championships brings the biggest economic impact of any sporting event that comes to Collier County. The area also receives national exposure from the event — the finals are streamed live on ESPN3, while an ad for Naples runs on NBC during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The CVB estimates 4,250 visitors will come to Naples for the FBU National Championships and stay an average of six days, which amounts to $3 million in direct spending.
“We do a lot of soccer tournaments, some with 40 to 50 teams,” Wert said. “None of them have the following that (FBU) has.”
By changing the format of its 64-team tournaments, FBU is giving teams more time to travel. There will be a weekend off between the third round at regional sites and the fourth round in Naples. The past two years, teams that won regional titles on a Sunday would have to be in Naples by Thursday, a tough turnaround for teams out west.
Doug Berman, chairman and CEO of All-American Games, said the decision to return to Naples was easy based on response from teams and families. The experience of those involved was so positive that FBU decided to bring more teams to town.
“We’ve had a successful two years here,” Berman said. “The feedback from parents about the community and opportunity here has been outstanding.
“We have teams from Seattle to South Florida … Boston to San Diego. They all want to be on the road to Naples.”